Traverse City Record-Eagle

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April 2, 2013

Film Fest wants shuttered museum as 2nd theater

TRAVERSE CITY — Movies on the beach could become a year-round attraction if the Traverse City Film Festival can successfully convert the former Con Foster Museum into a movie house.

Film Festival officials sent a letter to the city that seeks a 10-year contract to use the vacant building in Clinch Park. The Film Festival proposes to spend $800,000 to turn the historic, city-owned building into a sister venue to its State Theatre. Officials think the facility could seat 150 to 200 patrons.

"The programming will be similar to what we have here at the State Theatre, just in a smaller, more intimate setting," said Deb Lake, Film Festival executive director. "It will be a comfortable, world class presentation, but it will be wonderfully different being right on the bay."

Plans call for the Con Foster to be open for one matinee and one evening show each day, year-round. The theater would host first-run films, art films, community screenings, and free and special events. It also would be free of the deed restriction that prevents the State Theatre from showing any new release that opens in more than 200 theaters nationwide.

Michael Moore, Film Festival co-founder and president, said the nonprofit sought a second screen location for some time and the Con Foster is the perfect location.

"I don't think I've ever seen an art house cinema on a beach," Moore said in a prepared release. "There's something very cool about it."

The Film Festival would name the theater "Bijou on the Bay" and hopes to hold its grand opening during the Traverse City Film Festival that begins July 30. Film Festival organizers are reaching out to major donors who can cover the majority of the costs of the new Bijou with the remainder of the funding to come from the sale of seat sponsorships and matching donations, Lake said.

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